Betweeen summer storms Catherine, Gill, the dogs and I wend our way through squidgy mud and damp air to Sharrah. The river pounds and rumbles, and none of the lower pools is swimmable. We are hit by a grizzly roar where the waters are forced through the narrows above Bel Pool Island.
Sharrah boils burnt orange today, another colour I’ve not see here before. A beery foam head floats atop the eddy and cakes our chins so we appear to have been caught mid-shave. My arms and legs glow the colour of a Posh spray-tan. Huge bubbles appear and process downstream, held above the surface by little foamy floats.
Swimming flat out into the beer head I adjust my stroke so’s I can sweep it away from my face. It smells slightly off, like the whiff of an over-ripe cheese, but the water is beautifully cool and smooth and fresh as summer rain. Eddie the terrier is almost engulfed, while Socks the collie panics when she loses sight of one of us and emits a volley of alarm-barks. Honey drops yet another ball into the river and spends the swim trying to dig it up from between some tree roots.
I decide against braving the top of the rapid current, and go in below the big rock. Even there I’m pushed under by a down-surge and get that helpless sinking feeling, where you know you can’t float and just have to go with it; it’s a reminder of how it feels not to be able to swim. The river spits me back up and I spin slowly in the current.